Barbara Cotes, center in uniform photo, is now Haskell’s Manager of Team Member Engagement.

November 9, 2022

Engagement Leader Cotes Was a Real-Life ‘Rosie the Riveter’

U.S. Navy service positioned Barbara Cotes for an instructional design career that led her to Haskell, where she values camaraderie with other veterans.


Barbara Cotes, Haskell’s Manager of Team Member Engagement, is inspired by a family legacy of service that she was bound to follow, particularly that of her great-grandmother Bertha Tygard.

“I had grandmothers, aunts and uncles and others in the Red Cross, you name it,” Cotes said. “But my great grandmother Bertha was really special. She worked in a steel shop during World War II in Pittsburgh and was much like the famous Rosie the Riveter.”

“Rosie the Riveter” was the fictional female character used in a recruiting poster during World War II to encourage women to support the war at home with the declaration, “We Can Do It!” Tygard became a legend in her family for her efforts.

Cotes was the first female in her family to join the military and became an actual riveter – officially called an Aviation Structural Mechanic Chief – in the Navy during a 17-year career. She was responsible for keeping close tabs on systems and equipment in Navy aircraft ranging from helicopters to fighter jets. Based primarily in Jacksonville, Florida, she saw 12 years of overseas duty.

Cotes left the Navy 20 years ago as her children were reaching elementary-school age. She pursued further education, using her GI Bill benefits to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Florida and then a master’s in Aeronautical Science with specializations in Adult Education and Instructional Design from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

She focused on onboarding and instructing new employees in various disciplines, diving into learning via computers. Logs and books, which she used in the Navy to stay abreast of aircraft parts and maintenance schedules, had become extremely outdated.

“When computers became a way to better track data, learning and records, that came extremely natural to me,” Cotes said. “Getting rid of the paperwork and paper waste was important to me so we could be more efficient, and wherever we could positively impact the environment, I was all in. I was very much about organizing more effectively.”

After working for two other large firms, Cotes joined Haskell in October 2020. She said she felt a link to the company’s focus on hiring veterans and teamwork.

“Everything Haskell does is based on project planning and safety,” Cotes said. “We build things that matter. In the military, service mattered. Haskell is building so many things that impact the community. It matters to the community and my country.

“Haskell has a record of hiring veterans, and this is the greatest number of female veterans I have ever worked with. There is definitely a camaraderie among the veterans, and we have been welcomed with open arms. In the military, our sense of team and purpose was very keen. The same holds true at Haskell, where all these jobs are intertwined. Values matter. That translates into everything we do.”

The standards by which she lives and works is evident to her fellow team members, and Cotes has just received one of three Q4 2022 Living the Values Awards, given to those who exemplify Haskell’s core values of Team, Excellence, Service and Trust.

“Barbara has high standards that she applies both to the people around her and herself, all in a caring way,” Master Trainer Taylor Williams wrote in her nomination. “She is good to her word. She has command without being condescending or egoic. She deeply cares about the team around her, but also the greater vision that Haskell has for the success and care for its people. The work that Barbara has done on engagement and the Gallup survey is critical to Haskell's success. Barbara feels like the ‘cool aunt’ I never had, but also like a leader and a superior. She is invested in who I am as a person, not just as an employee.”

Honoring Our Veterans

Haskell proudly employs veterans of the United States Armed Forces and currently employs more than 100 team members who previously served our country. To commemorate Veterans Day, this week is spotlighting one of them daily. Additionally, Haskell annually presents each veteran on our team with a special thank you gift.

As Haskell grows rapidly across the United States, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region to meet the needs of new and existing clients, veterans continue to play an ever-increasing role. Those who have served our nation understand mission, structure, results and accountability. They are a perfect fit with Haskell’s core values of Team, Excellence, Service and Trust.

Are you interested in transitioning from the military to a career with a vibrant, growing company that provides nearly unlimited opportunities? Contact us to learn more.

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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